COLUMBIA — The Hickman and Rock Bridge football teams avoided elimination from the state playoffs last week when the Kewpies beat Troy Buchanan and the Bruins beat Blue Springs South. But each has work to do if it wants to make the state playoffs. Both teams need to win in order to keep their playoff chances alive, but a victory alone won't secure a playoff spot.
Hickman lost 38-42 to Fort Zumwalt West (5-4, 1-1) in its first district game. The Kewpies rebounded with a blowout win over Troy Buchanan (1-8, 0-2), but their next opponent, Jefferson City (7-2, 2-0), beat both Fort Zumwalt West and Troy Buchanan by more than 40 points, giving Jefferson City the edge in a tiebreaker.
In order to claim the district championship and make the state playoffs, Hickman will have to beat rival Jefferson City on Friday night by nine or more points, unless Troy Buchanan is able to defeat Fort Zumwalt West. If Fort Zumwalt West loses, Hickman can still make the playoffs even if it loses to Jefferson City.
"We haven't prepared any differently," Hickman coach Jason Wright said. "Our focus is the same. I haven't said anything to (the team) about winning by nine or anything like that."
Wright said the playoff implications of Friday's game doesn't motivate his team.
"If you go out and play a good game, the scoreboard will take care of itself," Wright said. "Just by saying 'Jeff City,' you get their attention."
Rock Bridge lost to Liberty (7-2, 1-1) in the first round of the district playoffs but got a seven-point victory over Blue Springs South to stay in the playoff hunt. Rock Bridge will play Blue Springs (8-1, 2-0), a team that is riding a six-game winning streak into Friday's game. The Wildcats have been held below 40 points just once this season in their only loss.
If the Bruins defeat Blue Springs, the Bruins will still need Liberty to lose against Blue Springs South in order to extend their season. With a Liberty loss, a victory over Blue Springs would give the Bruins the district title.
"Fortunately for us there's nowhere to flash the score (of the Liberty-Blue Springs South game), so there's no emotional up-and-down going on," Rock Bridge coach A.J. Ofodile said.
Ofodile said he thinks his team is physical enough to contend with Blue Springs, but it needs to avoid mistakes in order to win.
"It's a question of whether we make mistakes that hurt us or force them to make those mistakes," Ofodile said. "I feel like we have an opportunity, and I think we have the talent to play with Blue Springs."